Tag Archives: Christ

Matthew 15 – Man’s Heart

“If you want to know where your heart is, look to where your mind goes when it wanders.”  A young lady that i know posted this quote on facebook a couple of days ago.  This is the type of quote that i would normally “like” and comment about how true it is, but the more i began to think about it, the more uncomfortable i became with it.  This is definitely the kind of statement that seems good, and that seems right, but that if lived out can lead to destruction.

If i let my mind wander (unrestrained) invariably it will end up drifting into sin.  It will drift into thoughts and areas where it should not be.  Verses 16-20 of Matthew 15 say; “Jesus said, ‘Are you still lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated?  But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; …‘”  Is that where my heart is, or is that the sin in my life trying to rise up and consume me?

Once you get to know me, you can get a pretty good idea as to where my heart is… what i am passionate about.  Two big things that i’m passionate about are family and God / the Scriptures / Christianity / the church / Christian life.  These are things that mean a whole lot to me.  They are life consuming.  But, if i let my mind wander, too often my mind will meander to the areas of raw passion.  To emotions and desires unmet.  If you would, to areas of the ID (related to the Ego and Superego).  Are those thoughts my heart, who i am as a person?  They can be if i allow them to be!  Those are my raw emotions and passions, and if i allow them to be, they are my heart!

Colossians 3:2 says: “Set your minds on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”  II Corinthians 10:5 says, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,”  We must take every thought captive.  We must make it a decision to set our minds in the right direction.  If we let a meandering mind set the direction of our hearts, we will end up being consumed and ruled by our passions which will end up destroying us and all that we care about.

If you want your heart to be more than just your destructive raw passion and emotions, you must take your thoughts captive lest you become consumed.  The only way to have the strength to truly overcome your raw passions and reach all that you are meant to be, is to seek the one who created you in His image and from whom emotion and passion originated.

Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.

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Matthew 14 – John, Jesus, & Peter

It’s quite the statement when someone who kills you, hears about the Son of God doing amazing things and preaching & teaching, and thinks it is you risen from the dead.  Not that John the Baptist would really appreciate the irony of the situation so much.  But it certainly does make a statement.

This chapter focuses the mental camera on Jesus, the Christ,  by panning through John, Jesus, and Peter.  Attention is brought to the fate of John the Baptist, who must decrease while He (Christ) must increase… decrease is right.  Herod, who had arrested him for speaking out against him, had been keeping John alive in prison because he was struck by what John said, and Herod would bring him out to listen to him from time to time.  However, Herodias, Herod’s wife who did not like John speaking against her, had wanted John dead, but Herod was unwilling to do it.  So on Herod’s birthday, Herodius’ daughter, Salome, danced for him.  He offers her whatever she wants, she asks for the head of John the Baptist on a platter, and as much as he doesn’t want to do it, he does it to fulfill his promise before his guests.

So Jesus, in mourning, goes to a secluded place to find rest / peace, but He finds none.  The crowds arrive there before He does.  Even in mourning, He still minister’s and leads.  Then He feeds the crowds… or at least He blesses the food and tells the disciples to feed the people.  As a result, 5,000 are fed from five small loaves and two fish.  Afterwards He sends the disciples away in a boat, and He sends the crowds home.

Finally, there is a storm on the sea, Jesus walks on water, and the disciples see him.  Jesus speaks to the disciples to calm them, and Peter responds with an amazing reaction of faith.  He says, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”  He is finally getting it.  With Christ, and only through Christ (and the Holy Spirit), he will increase.

Who are we to become and at what cost?  John had to decrease for Christ to increase.  As Christ increased, Peter was able to increase as well.  Peter’s increase led to the increase of the church, but eventually he too decreased so that future generations could increase.  What is your role and your purpose in Christ?

Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.

 

P.S. This is my 150th post.

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Matthew 7 – Understanding

I was going through this chapter, trying to understand and process all of this information in a relatively short period of time, and i was struck by this first couple of sections.  First off, Christ talks about not judging lest we be judged.  I was thinking about what that means.  I know that i do not want to be judged by God, but how does one go about not judging others?  Then we hit verse 6 that says, “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”  So, we are not to judge, but in order to not give what is holy to dogs and not cast our pearls before swine, we must judge and discern that they are dogs or swine.  How do we do that?  Do not judge lest you be judged, yet judge lest you cast truth before those who can not accept it.

So we need to judge whether someone is able to handle the truth, but we must be careful in judging as we will be judged in the same way.  Later on, Jesus talks about knowing a person by their fruits.  If you need to judge someone you can understand who they are, and the truth about them by looking at what they produce.  If they produce life, they are people of life.  If they leave a path of destruction behind them, chances are they are a bad tree.

Later in the chapter Jesus talks about how the road is broad that leads to destruction, and narrow that leads to life and many who seek it will not find it.  So many who pursue truth and life will never find it.  Those are pretty strong words in our “all inclusive” culture.  Yet, those are Christ’s words.

So in understanding all of these things, it is important to build a strong foundation.  When you do not have a strong foundation, the troubles of life WILL sweep you away.  The only way to remain strong is have a strong foundation and strong roots.

Do you understand?  I’m pretty sure i MIGHT understand…  “When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

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Leviticus 18 – Defiled

This chapter is a very controversial chapter and tends to bring up all kinds of questions and debate.  In it YHWH deals with defilement (primarily sexual defilement); what defiles the people and what defiles the land.  In this chapter YHWH gives instruction for the people not to uncover their relative’s nakedness (or have sexual relations with them).  Incest is forbidden including incestual relations between a man and his mother, a father and his daughter-in-law, a man and both a woman and her daughter, and other relations.

There are other issues at work in this chapter as well.  For instance there is the command not to uncover a woman’s nakedness during her menstrual period, not to sleep with a neighbor’s wife, and not to sacrifice your child to Molech (this doesn’t happen anymore… does it?).  Each of these issues is very important and significant and should in no way be minimized.

However, the most controversial verse in this chapter (according to the current cultural view) is verse 22: “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”  You can see where a big part of the controversy begins here.  There are many that say that this passage does not apply anymore due to Christ having fulfilled the law.  That since Christ came and died and was raised again, and the curtain to the most holies was torn, we are no longer bound by the law.  We do not have to fulfill the sacrificial rules and regulations because Christ became the perfect sacrifice.  Since this passage is part of the legal instructions given to the Israelite people, it is completed and fulfilled and no longer applicable to us.

To some extent, that is an accurate (albeit flawed) understanding of Christ’s fulfillment of the law.  This entire chapter holds a different kind of sway than most of the rest of the law.  It is true to some extent that the law was for the nation of Israel, but this chapter is about what supersedes that law.  Verses 24-25 explain this a little bit better:
Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled.  For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants.
It doesn’t take an exegetical genius to understand that the commands in this chapter aren’t limited to the people of the Israelite nation.  These are laws that defy nature itself.  They are not limited to the people of Israel.  They apply to all people and all time.  It is because of these kinds of sins that the Israelites have the right, and the responsibility to not only conquer the land of Canaan, but to destroy its inhabitants as well.  The land itself has judged the Canaanites and is spewing them out because of the sins listed in this chapter.  The Israelites are simply tools to the fulfillment of that justice.

So how should we respond to those caught up in these kinds of sins?  Are we to judge and condemn them?  Is that our “right”?  I don’t believe so.  God says, “Judge not, lest you be judged.”  In that passage He is referring to not judging those of the world.  That judgment is His, not ours to dole out.  However, in I Corinthians 5 we are instructed to judge those within the body that are sinning against the body, and the sin refereed to there is a sin directly related to this chapter.  It was a sin being accepted and even praised within the church that should have been condemned.  That is a pattern we would be wise to heed.  The leaders of the church are responsible for understanding and responding appropriately to sin within the body.  In NO WAY should the church be lifting up and encouraging within the body what YHWH has condemned.  We are to be the light of hope to the troubled and struggling, not following in the defilement of the world.

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Leviticus 1 – Offering

The establishment of religion clause.  That is what this government is all about.  It is government by YHWH for the people and for His glory.  After having come out of Exodus and understanding that one of the primary things that YHWH was giving the Israelite people was a means and way of finally being able to worship Him, we find the first chapter of Leviticus giving instructions on how to offer up an offering from  the flock or the herd.

This is the very base and foundation of offerings.  It is the very cornerstone of the sacrificial system.  The shedding of blood for the remission / covering of sins is what gives the people the ability to come before a holy God without being consumed by YHWH’s holiness in the form of fire.  Within the sacrificial system there are three primary sacrificial animals; the bull, the sheep, and the goat.  This chapter answers how to properly bring those sacrifices to the temple, priests, and YHWH.  Secondarily, it also answers to how to bring the sacrifice of a bird.

This sacrifice is the very core of the sacrificial system.  It is a necessary offering and it is complete… or about as complete as an imperfect sacrifice that only covers sin and does not remove them can be.  The true and perfect sacrifice… The fulfillment of the sacrificial system, Jesus the Christ, will not come for millenia yet.

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Exodus 26 – Tabernacle

The tabernacle of the LORD was a beautiful thing.  I would have so loved to have seen it.  Exodus 26 is all about God describing to Moses the plans and process for building this traveling tent of His.  It describes the pillars overlaid with gold, the fine linen walls, the scarlet draperies, the goat skin tent covering the tabernacle, and the curtain that separates the holy place from the Holy of Holies.  I can only imagine what it would be like come to the tabernacle.  To come to the alter.  To enter the holy place.  To look into the Holy of Holies.

Of course i know that even if i were somehow transported to that time and place, i could never go there.  I am not a jew, i am a gentile.  So the closest i would be able to come would be to see it taken down and put up from a distance, or to see its splendor and beauty from the outside.  Even as an Israelite, you still wouldn’t be able to look into the Holy of Holies.  If you could see inside the tabernacle there was a great curtain between the holy place and the Holy of Holies.  Only the high priest could enter and only 1x per year.  That great curtain was both a blockade and a protection.  It prevented people from casually entering and being consumed due to their sin and lack of godliness.

The wonderful thing is though, that we don’t need to.  When Christ died on the cross the curtain was torn from top to bottom.  His sacrifice removed that barrier that prevented us from being able to relate directly to the God that created us.  Through Christ’s blood we are redeemed and cleansed.  We can have a relationship directly with God.  There is no need for a high priest.  There isn’t even a need for an ordinary every day priest.  There is God and there is us.  Through Christ’s cleansing blood we are able to speak with YHWH with no curtain in the way.  Don’t you want that too?

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